The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” In short, it’s the efforts and channels used to express the availability of a product or service to those who can benefit from it. (Okay, that wasn’t short).
As you can see, your marketing plan is arguably the most vital contributor to the success of your business yet it’s often the most underutilized component of your business plan. The art of marketing is much deeper than clever social media posts. It’s actually a combination of many individual focus areas such as brand identity items including your company’s logo, advertisements, print collateral, your sales team, organic brand ambassadors, and much more. In fact, you should think of marketing as an umbrella which covers many individual fields.
So, why aren’t businesses and business leaders using marketing to its fullest potential? Why aren’t brand ambassadors maximizing and diversifying their reach through conventional and unconventional marketing techniques?
I often ask those same questions among my new and prospective clients, and they respond with the honest truth. By and large, I hear a variation of the following three responses (listed most popular to least popular):
We can’t afford traditional marketing. You can’t afford not to market your business. If you have no method of communicating what you have to offer, you have no means of winning new business, making sales, and driving new opportunities to grow your brand.
I sell my products and services online and through social media. Though there are many platforms, social media is only one component of marketing and should be used in conjunction with many other methods.
I’ve been in business all these years and I’ve never done any marketing. Imagine how many business opportunities you’ve potentially missed as a result of not utilizing all available means of communication to express your products and services to the masses.
Know the Risks
According to the Small Business Association, “when marketing is ignored until it’s too late, many small businesses risk hitting a brick wall and, quite possibly, failing.” However; as we dive into some of the problems that organizations face which prohibit them from marketing their products and services most of the underlying reasoning lies in lack of budgeting. Perhaps, this is why approximately 50% of start up’s experience closures within their first 5 years (Small Business Administration). How can this be avoided? As a general rule, small businesses with revenues less than $5 million should allocate 7-8 percent of their revenues to marketing (Small Business Administration). You can find more detailed information on budgeting for your specific business at www.sba.gov.
Know Your Market
Once you’ve determined the appropriate funds to allocate towards marketing for your specific business, it’s time to put those funds to work. Hire a professional marketing firm such as VineWorks Marketing, LLC. www.vineworksmarketing.com to help you segment your market and identify your target customer. “This process – knowing to whom and when to market your product or service – can result in much higher rates of return, and it involves implementing systems, rather than relying on indiscriminate marketing,” (Chuck Cohn). Your target customer is the group of businesses (in B2B sales) or individuals (in B2C sales) that most largely carries the traits of those who can benefit most from your products and services. This customer fits a specific profile (known as a demographic) and fulfills a certain criteria including but not limited to: annual revenue, location of residence, family size, gender, age, and much more.
Learn your customers. Understand your customer’s needs, behaviors, and spending patterns. Speak to them in a language that they understand. For example, if your customers are Millennials, they’re likely to be more socially conscious and accepting than the generations that precede them. If they’re Baby Boomers, they’re more likely to be conservative spenders and less likely to make purchases based on environmental influences alone.
Contact VineWorks Marketing for more tips on how you can reach and effectively communicate with your customer to drive sales, increase profits, and build lasting relationships.